Friday, June 12, 2009

Bonhoeffer: The Meaning of Poor In Spirit and the Joy of Being Spiritual Bankrupt

Sunday morning we will be begin by looking at the subject of joy and we will be looking at the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12). The first of 9 "blesseds" regards those who are "poor in spirit" (Matthew 5:3). While studying what Jesus meant by this, I came across the following quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book, The Cost of Discipleship:
They are poor . . . They have no security, no possession to call their own, not even a foot of earth to call their home, no earthly society to claim their absolute allegiance. Nay more, they have no spiritual power, experience or knowledge to afford them consolation or security. For his sake they have lost all. In following him they lost even their own selves, and everything that could make them rich. Now they are poor -- so inexperienced, so stupid, that they have no other hope but him who called them. -107

I love this quote. It is a good summary of what Jesus means by "blessed are the poor in spirit." Jesus says that those who are truly happy, those who have real joy, are those who are utterly spiritually bankrupt. It is Jesus, and Jesus alone, who can turn things on their head like this. Jesus calls us to recognize that only when we realize that we are already spiritual destitute can find true joy in the gospel of Christ. And it is the poor in the spirit who will "inherit the kingdom of heaven." It is only whenever we acknowledge that we have nothing and yet gain everything that we can be truly happy and live a life of joy.

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